New sizzle for meat labelling

FILE PICTURE: Assorted meat on sale. Picture: Michel Bega

FILE PICTURE: Assorted meat on sale. Picture: Michel Bega

What you order for the weekend braai across the butcher’s counter must now be exactly what you ask for.

Meat labelling regulations will be gazetted tomorrow, nearly eight months after a shocking study revealed species such as water buffalo and donkey had been found in several products on South African shelves.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies announced yesterday that the meat labelling regulations are in line with the Consumer Protection Act.

Davies said consumers had every right to be informed about the ingredients contained in food products. This would assist them in making informed choices.

Failure to inform the public by anyone in the meat supply chain would amount to a breach of the Act, he said at the Eat Well, Eat Safe South African campaign in Cape Town.

With the introduction of the industry regulations manufacturers and producers need to jump in and produce and sell healthy products, said Davies.

“Section 29 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) sets out the general standards for marketing goods and services stipulates that parties in the supply chain must not market any goods or services in a manner that is likely to imply a false or misleading representation about them.”

Major supermarkets, including Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Fruit and Veg City, Woolworths and Spar were exposed earlier this year for stocking incorrectly labelled meat products containing traces of other animal species.

This was after a University of Stellenbosch study by Dr Donna-Maree Cawthorn and Prof Louw Hoffman found that “anything from soya, donkey, goat and water buffalo” were to be found in up to 68% of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats.

A strong case of meat substitution was also reported.

Pork at 37% and chicken at 23% were the most commonly detected animal species in products that were not supposed to contain them.

In other cases, undeclared plant matter was detected.

According to the Consumer Protection Act, under product labelling and trade descriptions, a person must not knowingly apply to any goods a trade description that is likely to mislead the consumer.

They must not alter, deface, cover, remove or obscure a trade description or trade mark applied to any goods in a manner calculated to mislead consumers.

Davies added that government and the private sector were “on a crusade” to ensure that the food processing sector grew to become globally competitive.


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